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Towards a discovery of 'missing' voices: social forces and the police response to Malta's 6th May 1891 disorder

Evans, Rhoda Jayne Nemur (2012)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

The aims of this thesis were two-fold. Firstly, to examine the class relations and social forces at play surrounding an incident of disorder which took place in the Maltese capital city of Valletta on the 6th May 1891. The disorder occurred during British colonial rule and involved a large number of protesters, some of whom were arrested. The second objective was to reveal the background to and the causes of the disorder, as well as telling the story of the incident itself, the role the police played and their response to the disorder. These aims have been achieved through conducting a detailed social and political analysis of the official archival records and the local English-language press reports created contemporaneously to the disorder. The analysis has uncovered a number of ‘voices’ representative of selected social groups which existed in Malta at the time. These were the official Whitehall and colony-level voices, the voice of the upper and middle-class Maltese as well as the voice of the lower-class Maltese. A number of key characters involved in the disorder have also been identified. It has emerged that the analysis contained in this thesis is incomplete as whilst the voice of the lower-class Maltese has been identified, this group remains unheard in its own right and the social and occupational composition of this group is yet to be established. Following Gramsci and Spivak, this socially subordinate group has been described in this thesis as the subaltern Maltese. The applicability of Gramsci’s and Spivak’s influential concepts of “subaltern” have been discussed in relation to colonial Malta. The background to and causes of the disorder have also been found to be more complex and to have had a greater bearing upon the disorder than hitherto appreciated. The accounts of the incident, and who was responsible for the disorder all differ dependent upon which voice is speaking and there are substantial discrepancies between the accounts. The middle-classes are identified as leading the protest that day, although the issues raised were of most concern to the subaltern Maltese. The role this group played in the disorder is unclear and this could be explored in further research. The non-routine use of truncheons and a heavy police presence, complimented by an unutilised military contingent, are features of how the disorder was policed. A number of arrests were made, although these were accompanied by serious allegations of police brutality and provocation reported in the English-language press.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Cain, Maureen and Doolin, Katherine
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Birmingham Law School
Subjects:DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
HT Communities. Classes. Races
K Law (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3925
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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